Rosenstein House Judiciary, Oversight Testimony Kerfuffle Ensues After Subpoena Threat

Confusion emerges over deputy attorney general’s scheduling with committees

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on the Justice Department’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on December 13, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 1:40 p.m. | Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was expected to testify in a closed session with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees this week but he will not appear, according to a news release from GOP Reps. Andy Biggs and Matt Gaetz.

However, a Republican Judiciary Committee aide said the panel has many questions for Rosenstein and expects answers to those questions but noted there is not yet a confirmed date for a meeting, seeming to refute the suggestion Rosenstein was scheduled to appear.

Judiciary Democrats were never given any notice that a meeting with the deputy attorney general had been scheduled and do not believe Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte’s office had scheduled one either, a Democratic Judiciary Committee aide said.

Goodlatte had invited Rosenstein to appear on Thursday but Rosenstein rejected the initial invitation because he did not want to sit for a transcribed interview, according to a source familiar with the situation. Rosenstein said he’d be willing to appear for a more informal briefing and the Judiciary Committee is still negotiating with him, the source said.

[Witnesses Increasingly Wary of House GOP Probe into DOJ, FBI Bias]

The panels had wanted to question Rosenstein about a New York Times report that alleged he wanted to secretly record President Donald Trump and had talked about trying to force the president out by invoking the 25th Amendment.

Biggs of Arizona and Gaetz of Florida are now calling on the Judiciary Committee to subpoena Rosenstein to compel his testimony.

“Despite speculation that he would appear on Thursday, October 11th, Rosenstein has again failed to cooperate with congressional leaders,” Biggs said. “The Judiciary Committee must now subpoena him to appear. His obstinance should not be rewarded with more delays. Rod Rosenstein has stonewalled congressional investigations for months, while allowing Special Counsel Robert Mueller to escape oversight of his investigation.”

Gaetz accused DOJ of “playing hide-and-seek with Congressional interviews,” saying that suggests they are not taking lawmakers seriously.

“I hope that a subpoena will impress upon DAG Rosenstein the gravity of our request, and I look forward to questioning him when he appears before the committee,” he said.

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